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June 15, 2011 1:21 PM

Australian Merger Helps Boost Norton Rose Revenue

Posted by Chris Johnson

U.K. firm Norton Rose has announced a 9 percent increase in revenues in its first full year following its January 2010 merger with Australia's Deacons.

Combined revenues for the group, which is structured as a Swiss verein and therefore retains separate profit pools, actually rose by 21 percent to a record high of $814 million in the fiscal year that ended April 30--up from $670 million the previous year. The 9 percent figure reflects an adjustment to account for the effects of currency fluctuation.

Group CEO Peter Martyr says that the revenue growth “demonstrates the advantages of our geographic spread and our focus on six sector specialist areas across the business internationally.”

While the firm declined to provide a breakdown of the revenue taken in by Norton Rose LLP and Deacons (now known as Norton Rose Australia), it must release separate results by January due to a requirement that all U.K. LLPs file publicly available accounts at Companies House within nine months of the end of each fiscal year.

Norton Rose has not yet released its profit figures for the fiscal year just ended. Profits per partner dropped by 6 percent to £486,000 ($785,000) in the prior fiscal year--a dip the firm attributed to its decision to offer attorneys and partners the opportunity to work reduced hours during the recession as a way of avoiding layoffs.

After seeing its position within the market gradually decline for almost a decade, Norton Rose has achieved considerable growth in the past three years, as sibling publication The American Lawyer reported in March.

In addition to its combination with Deacons, the firm also completed mergers with Canada's Ogilvy Renault and South African firm Deneys Reitz. As with Norton Rose Australia, these firms will also remain as distinct financial and legal entities--a decision that has led some to question the validity of the mergers. (Revenues generated by its Canadian and South African arms are not included in the latest results, because though announced last November, the tie-ups only took effect this month.)

The firm also launched a new Frankfurt office in February, and struck an alliance with one-partner Indonesian firm Susandarini & Partners in March.

All told, Norton Rose now comprises more than 2,600 lawyers across 39 offices worldwide. Combined revenue for all four businesses is expected to top $1 billion in the current fiscal year, according to The American Lawyer's calculations.

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